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Chile Plant

Chile Plant (7)

 Chile Harvest Festival

Saturday, November 19, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Lots of fun and festivities are to be had!

Come for a chile cook-off and enjoy many different types of chile.

Listen to the music of Salvador Ojeda and his world famous mariachi band.

Buy organic product at the farmer's market.

Satisfy your sweet tooth from the waffle and ice cream truck.

Participate in a Pokemon hunt.

Take a tour of the chile farm and enjoy a taco from the Lunchadore's Taco Truck.

Shoot free throws for prizes.

 

 

If you wish to join us “down on the farm” to assist with the picking and processing of our chile, we normally work on Monday mornings at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast and 9:00 a.m. for picking and processing.  Just drop on in, or leave your name and number at the church office and someone will contact you with details.    In Christ, Bill Robinson

The Episcopal Journal includes an article in their March edition about the Chile Farm.  Please see the attached article.

 

Winter at The Crazy Chile Farm

If you are new to Transfiguration, or if you have just popped in for a visit, you are probably not yet aware that this church is home to something that is completely unique in the Episcopal Church of the United States, if not in the entire Worldwide Anglican Communion.  While not the only unique thing about Transfiguration, the unique “something” to which I’m referring is that we supplement the finances of our community outreach and social responsibility programs with profits from a commercial chile pepper farm. Yes, you read that right, a chile pepper farm—The Crazy Chile Farm, to be exact!

Located on the parish campus just north of the old rectory, on land that used to be part of a cotton field, volunteer parishioners cultivate, harvest, process, and package a unique 400 year old variety of chile known as Campo Dorado—a Spanish name meaning “goldfield”.  Directly related to the famous Chimayo chile of Northern New Mexico, ancestors of this variety were first brought to that region in 1598 by the Spanish colonizer Don Juan de Oñate.  Our seeds are the great, great, ever so great grandchildren of the seeds introduced by Oñate.  They were collected in Chimayo by a company in Tucson that specializes in certified heritage seeds.

The bulk of the fall crop has now been harvested, dried and processed into chile powder.  Although, as of this writing in late December, there are still ripe pods coming and new blossoms have appeared on a number of the plants.  This is good, news!  So far, we have sold everything we have produced as fast as we can process it, and there is a backlog of both parish and commercial customers.  

As we move into 2016, the yield from our next crop should be significantly higher (assuming plans work  and prayers are answered).  Some of our prayers are as follows:  New seeds will be sown in our starter flats, chile sprouts will be planted in the gaps of our rows, older plants pruned and refreshed, manure and compost added, processing equipment and methodology improved, plant-eating critters will be thwarted, and the irrigation system will work perfectly.  Amen for now.  Also, there have been profits from this year’s crop.  This means that in 2016, the first of our financial grants will be made to our community outreach and social responsibility programs.  After all, The Crazy Chile Farm is not just about the heat of our chile powder.  It is about the heat of the compassion and the intensity of the love that the people of this church continue to show for our neighbors.  God bless you all.

If you wish to join us “down on the farm”, we normally work on Monday mornings.  Just drop on in, or leave your name and number at the church office and someone will contact you with details.    In Christ, Bill Robinson

Farm and Garden Report

This past summer and early fall has been an extraordinary learning adventure for the farmhands at the Transfiguration Crazy Chile Farm.  November marks the first anniversary of groundbreaking at the Farm.  We began with clearing the fields, building a new chainlink fence, and starting flats of of seeds for March transplanting. Progress was rapid, and by April 15th 800 starts of Chimayo chile plants were in the ground and 21 rows of Flor del Rio heritage popcorn had been planted to shade the baby chile plants from the oncoming summer heat.  A sophisticated irrigation system was designed, installed and adjusted, all of our prayers, dreams and carefully considered plans appeared to be on the verge of fulfillment.  And then came May.

Summer hit the Farm like a bull rider at a garden party.  The heat was extreme enough to melt the glue holding the PVC parts of our irrigation system together. On days over 110, the ground temperature exceeded 150.  Vinyl tubing explosions on the above ground parts of the system became a daily occurrence.  While repairs were being made, the irrigation was turned off, and plant losses were inevitable. Transplanting new seedlings into the gaps in the rows was futile.  And on top of everything our labor force shrank as many of our most committed farmhands had gone north for the summer.

Nevertheless, by God’s incredible grace and the hard work of a broad cross section of parishioners, the Farm survived.  Now, with the arrival of cooler temperatures, it has begun to thrive.  To date, here is what has been accomplished:

  • The first corn crop produced decorative salable bundles which are now actually producing revenue for the Farm. 
  • Surviving chile plants have shown healthy growth and produced lots of chiles.
  • New chile plants are being planted every week, and by mid-winter we will have 800+ plants in the garden.  We’re shooting for 840 by March.
  • As the weather cools, both the size and number of the fruits has increased.
  • A simple plant protection system using Dixie Cups has been developed and has completely eliminated critter predation on the baby plants!

Now that we are producing substantial poundage of chile powder, a portion of our effort has begun to focus on marketing.  The popcorn we grew as a shade crop turned out to have more value as decorative bundles than as popcorn.  The bundles were put together by our Sunday School students with the help of adult volunteers.  All but a handful have been sold (mostly to our own parishioners) at $10 per bundle.  Proceeds from the bundles covered our summer expenses, and enough was left over to provide the funding for 1000 meals for The Community Alliance Against Family Abuse in Apache Junction.

The chile powder has been given the trade name of “Campo Dorado”—Spanish for Goldfield, our local mountains.  Our homemade six-layer sun dryer is now almost full of ripe chile pods which will be processed and packaged on November 14th as part of a Parish work day.  Initial production will be offered to parishioners, and the bulk of the poundage will go to commercial accounts.  We have already been offered $10 per bag wholesale for each 4 oz. package. If you are interested in buying some chile at the wholesale price, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Most of the work on the Farm is done on Monday mornings.  The workers have breakfast together at 8:00am followed by farm work.  No experience necessary—and we have a lot of fun!

In Christ, Bill Robinson

 HARVESTING

The bulk of the early chile harvest is in. Once processed into powder, there will be enough for sales samples that will help us develop fall markets. Please understand that our entire harvest is from immature plants. Output from each plant will increase with maturity—rather dramatically.

If you haven’t visited “The Crazy Chile Farm” recently, you might be surprised to see what looks to be a “Corn Field”.  If that’s what you see, your impression is correct.  The corn was planted between the rows of chile to provide shade for the delicate chile pods and prevent them from becoming sunburned.  Since chile is shorter than corn, all the casual viewer sees are the tassels and stalks of North America’s first, and most important, cultivar.  More about corn in another Newsletter.

We planted 960 perennial chile plants in a fenced off, critter protected space behind the Parish House - right here at Transfiguration - a very special (almost magical) garden using seeds from a 416 year-old New Mexico variety that is in high demand in gourmet restaurants and markets in the Valley of the Sun.   The good news is that about a dozen of our Chimayo chile plants have formed their first fruits!  One of the pictures below was taken May 4th 2015. Praise God for His graciousness, and heartfelt thanks to God's many helpers who never lost their faith.

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